E3 09 Diary: Day One

This is the high quality graphic you get when I'm on my netbook at half midnight in a freezing patio.

Hello! I’m at E3. I’ve been doing this job for over a decade, and I’ve never been before this year, so I feel at once all wizened and experienced, and young and naive. I’m settling for a compromise of old and tired. Since I’m here, and trying to find moments in which to write up bits and pieces (see today’s Brink and The Old Republic pieces), I figured I’d also write a bit about the whole experience. Um, I should make this pretty clear: this won’t be productive.

I spent the weekend in Seattle, my newshound nose bringing you all the Left 4 Dead 2 news that was so warmly received. It really thrilled me, swelled my heart, the way our super-almost-world-exclusive (it would have been, if pesky IGN hadn’t seen it too) was met with such a response of kind-hearted interest and enthusiasm. A treat.

Then Monday I arrived in LA, all set to go to the EA opening presentation, to find out all their exciting revelations. Except my plane was late, and it turns out LAX is flipping miles from city, and there was a WAR! A war between aliens and robots that was really quite a bother, traffic backed up for miles. So I sat in my hotel in my pants, and then went out for Korean BBQ with a friend who lives in town. It’s this dedication that you read RPS for.

But Tuesday morning meant proper work. By morning I mean lunchtime. For some reason this year’s E3 didn’t start until 12pm on Tuesday, rather confusing everyone involved. This was made even more confusing by the rather officious decision to keep all non-exhibitors out of the hall before the 12pm opening, making reaching a 12 o’clock appointment something of a struggle. I have a media badge, damn it! MEDIA!

The badge thing is pretty interesting. I don’t know if you know about Jane Elliott’s blue eyes/brown eyes experiment, but the badges at E3 seems a pretty effective way of recreating it. The exhibitors have orange stripes on their badges, while media have black. This is accompanied by the splendid words “All Access”, which lets me hold my badge out from the strap around my neck and march past disappointed security guards with my nose high in the air. It means I can go up escalators out of bounds to the green stripe people. Ew, green stripers are just awful. Thousands of them, cluttering up the place with their non-all-access permissions, acting as if they deserve to be at the same games show as my people. I know they’re a simple, lesser sort, and I should give them my sympathy, but instead I barge my way past them on my way into the media ONLY hospitality area to drink my complimentary iced tea.

My first impression of the event was that it was simply too enormous. But as it turns out, it’s not that bad. The big companies have their ludicrously huge stages and booths in the middle, and then all the cuddly smaller developers area scattered around the outside. My first visit of the day was the splendid High Rez Studios to see Global Agenda, which I’ll tell you all about in the next couple of days. I liked that this was my first call, away from the insane noise of EA and Sega and the like, in a nice, gentle area. Of course, I didn’t have to play with the dreadful green stripers, but instead was welcomed through a black door into a tiny pretend room.

Then it was pretty non-stop all day, rushing from one appointment to the next, all day long, with only enough time to steal two grapes and a Sprite from Valve’s secret NO GREENS room.

Sadly the glamour of my delusional importance does not stretch outside of the Convention Center, and as I sit here on a freezing patio area thing, six metres away from my hotel room so I can at least get a whiff of internet access, my poor little legs are getting too cold. Which is better than too hot, which I was for the majority of the day. Apparently the weather is unseasonably mild for the time of year, according to the nine hundred and sixty weather bulletins on NBC this morning. If it had been one degree hotter I would have stood in the middle of the street screaming until I died.

What will Wednesday bring?!?!


  1. The Hammer says:

    Nice report, John! I’m happy to see the stupid bombastic E3 back, and am always interested to hear about what actually goings on at the expos, rather than just knowing about the games. Looking forward to the next diary!

  2. MrBejeebus says:

    haha, have fun Mr Walker!

  3. Professor says:

    Hopefully valve denouncing l4d2.

    I don’t know about you, but from what I’ve seen, the responses for l4d 2 have ranged mostly from apathy to extreme displeasure.

    Also, I hope for some proper news on mass effect 2 and maybe some more info on AVP?

  4. DSX says:

    It didn’t happen without pictures of John Posing with unnamed booth babe #42.

    ps: any stuff on “I am Alive” would be sweet.

  5. Seniath says:

    @Professor Don’t mention the war L4D2.

  6. Dante says:

    @ Professor:

    I think there’s been a fair range of reponses, it’s just that the “OMG WORST THING EVER” folk are the most vocal ones. As usual.

  7. Dante says:

    I’m curious John, did you stick to the PC stuffalone, or where you seduced by any of the big console presentations and feel guilty and used afterwards?

  8. Xercies says:


    If he did stick to PC Only he wouldn’t have much to go to…

  9. Piispa says:

    They actually did an international research which showed that people with green stripes were less intuitive and their brain activity was less active than those of with black or orange stripes. They theorized that the more thrilled personality of the more intelligent populance colors the stripe on the badge to black or orange based on the activity of their brainwave, but leaving the stripe of the less intelligent people green.

  10. Noc says:

    I find myself wondering what a “pretend room” entails. Is it just, like, an area marked out on the ground with tape, with a door inexplicably stuck in the middle of the floor? Where you sit inside and pretend that you are enclosed by walls? ?!?!? ?!



    . . .


  11. Monkeybreadman says:

    Good write-up, i want a black pass too….. and to be there……and not at work.

    Things i want to know about is Bad Company 2, Operation Flashpoint 2 (are they even there?), Diablo 3, Alan Wake, AVP, Singularity, Borderland, Bioshock 2 multiplayer, Mafia 2 and Brink sounds good, any video?

    And I want pictures of girls surrounded by geeks

    Get to it

  12. Jim Rossignol says:

    Xercies: If he did stick to PC Only he wouldn’t have much to go to…

    Or he could have been fully booked for the entire event… which he was. (Unless you’re excluding cross-platform.) In fact I think there’s a bunch of people he’s not going to have time to see.

  13. Captain Bland says:

    It’s good to know you’re actually enjoying it, the whole thing sounds nightmarish. We appreciate your sacrifice! Now go get me an exclusive on Obsidian’s Fallout game.

  14. NotJeff says:

    Sounds a bit like a Hunter S monologue – will subsequent days report’s bear reference to decadence and passages from Revelation?

  15. Carra says:

    How are the booth babes this year?

  16. Bobsy says:

    If you insist on booth babes (sigh) then @Schizoslayer tweeted this earlier: link to is.gd

  17. CMaster says:

    @John – I don’t think you should see the reaction to your exclusive as people hating you for putting in the effort to get the information. Just that people have a variety of feelings about the news itself, as they often will.

    Having seen all of this yourself, what’s your take on the idea that E3 is a collosal waste of money on impressing and treating people such as yourself which could instead be used to say, pay developers salaries or hire some actual bug testers? Do you think that the need to create impressive rooms etc is a waste, or that E3 is a great way for everybody to get their game heard about?

  18. Ian says:

    Is Korean BBQ similar to Mongolian BBQ? Because I’ve been to one of those restaurants and they rock.

  19. mr_monolith says:

    Nice touch of Brave New World there.

  20. Surgeon says:

    Those orange stripes have gone to your head :D

    Any chance of some Jumpgate Evo updates?
    Have fun!

  21. Count Zero says:

    E3 sounds like a lot of fun, a barrel of monkeys worth in fact, but for some reason it’s always been a ‘trade-only’ event. Being a member of the general public, and thus bellow even the green badge, I’ll never get in…

    I mean what’s the point of loud music, semi nude booth professionals and celebrity has-beens other than to impress me, Joe Public?

  22. MCHN says:

    “It really thrilled me, swelled my heart, the way our super-almost-world-exclusive (it would have been, if pesky IGN hadn’t seen it too) was met with such a response of kind-hearted interest and enthusiasm. A treat.”

    Hahahahaha, quite so, Mr. Walker, quite so. People, especially spoiled little internet man-child people, are ungrateful sods sometimes.

  23. Subject 706 says:

    Please, oh mighty RPS, bring us some news of the less known, non-FPS games. Disciples 3? Majesty 2?

  24. leelad says:

    I was going to ask of Blizzard where there but it’s kind of a stoopid question. Why spend so much time on a bizarre ticketing system for your own event when you’re going to announce stuff there.

    Because you wouldn’t.

    Nothing i’m currently waiting on at E3 then D3, SC2 and a big swirly vortex with purples in. (Rumored)

  25. The Fanciest of Pants says:

    @John Walker.

    Well I liked your L4D 2 article John. Serious plague of whiners in RPS comments lately.

  26. mickiscoole says:

    I am going to assume that because there are NO GREENS in the super secret valve room it means that it contains Ep 3 gameplay.

    Its not like Valve are working on any other game at the moment…

    (I am actually looking forward to L4D2. An actual storyline? count me in. It is just that I would have liked Ep 3 stuff more)

  27. E says:

    Go play Split/Second – that’s the game we’re working on here down in Brighton :)

  28. jalf says:

    I spent the weekend in Seattle, my newshound nose bringing you all the Left 4 Dead 2 news that was so warmly received. It really thrilled me, swelled my heart, the way our super-almost-world-exclusive (it would have been, if pesky IGN hadn’t seen it too) was met with such a response of kind-hearted interest and enthusiasm. A treat.

    hey, your pseudo-exclusive rocked! It was far more interesting than whatever E3 press conference I was streaming when it was published. Just because not everyone liked the news you brought them doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate your work. (And I’d say it was met with plenty of interest and enthusiasm. At least, lots of people took an interest, and there’s some pretty enthusiastic debating going on in the comments).

    As a RPS article, it was great. As a strategy for Valve, L4D2 is more controversial. I’m not sure how I feel about Valve ditching L4D so quickly, but having so much info on the sequel available here was awesome.

    Btw, green stripes are regular attendees, I assume?

    By the way, why’s everyone so crazy about Ep3? I’d have thought people were more interested in Portal 2, future plans for L4D (sequel or otherwise), TF2 updates and all their other games, given how relatively low-profile Halflife has been lately. Not that I’m not looking forward to Ep3 myself, I just hadn’t expected it to be that much in demand.

  29. Bananaphone says:

    John, you going to cover games from the less prominent studios? Every games site out there is talking about the latest news from Sony, Nintendo, Microsoft, EA and the rest but there must be loads of other smaller outfits attending.

  30. MikeBiggs says:

    @John Walker
    Well you have my thanks for the L4D2 preview! Valve may be doing themselves a disservice with this, on the other hand they may pull it off.
    Either way I’ll play the game and be happy!

  31. Stuk says:

    Ooo, more write ups like this please. I want to live like a super star journalist by proxy :)

    I imagine the “pretend room” was just four plywood walls, with no roof? And I appreciated your L4D2 report. Shame having an (almost) exclusive exclusively brings the Angry Internet Men here to rant.

  32. Sonic Goo says:

    What pretend rooms might look like:
    link to filmmakermagazine.com

  33. Golden says:

    Oh John, the sacrafices you make for us salavating gamers.

  34. yutt says:

    @John Walker

    I was certainly appreciative to have your L4D2 exclusive to read, it was of great value to RPS readers. That doesn’t mean I am happy about the news itself. But, unless you have far more sway at Valve than I am aware, that is completely outside of your control.

    You certainly shouldn’t feel that criticism of the information you presented is in anyway criticism of you or your efforts.

  35. Meat Circus says:

    John, have you paused to consider exactly why you spectacularly misread the Left4Dead expansion pack brouhaha and failed to ask appropriate questions that would have contextualised why so many people are pissed off with Valve?

    In this case, sneering at the AIMs just doesn’t cut it. You missed a trick here.

  36. James says:

    @ Jim Rossignol – Oh, Jim. You and your sarcasm are wonderful

    @ John Walker – Screamed in the street until you died? LA was the same temperature as London yesterday! Be happy it’s not 20 degrees warmer, let alone one! Here’s hoping the weather holds for you – love the writeups so far. Please put old and tired on hold long enough to fill us plebians in on the legendary E3 parties everyone raves about.

  37. Xercies says:


    Well you can’t count any of the Multi Xbox-PC games because apprantly theree exclusive to Xbox. So I don’t know why were talking about Left 4 dead, its exclusive to Xbox 360.


  38. Psychopomp says:

    One of these days, I’m going to fly every Brit down to Texas, in the middle of August.

    I find it silly hearing news reports on “record weather in Britain/Northern state,” and you’re only putting up with 90 degrees farenheit

  39. Ploddish says:

    And then we’ll all be dead. And then you’ll be sorry.

    Lovely article, Mr Walker. What’s the hotel room like?

  40. cHeal says:

    Oh no, not that time of year again :(

  41. P7uen says:

    @ Meat Circus:
    I respectfully disagree, I want my RPS puppets to glean as much about the game as possible, leave the contextualisation of brouhahas until later, thanks.

    @ John Walker:
    As you were, soldier.

  42. Smurfy says:

    @Count Zero: No, anyone can get in if they’ve paid.

  43. Rei Onryou says:

    I hear they revoke your BLACK stripe if you reveal the existence of the secret Valve room and replace it with a PINK stripe! They also remove a testicle. Oh the horror of being lower than GREEN.

    I’m enjoying the write ups so far John. Very happy reader here. I’m one of the rare ones happy about L4D2.

    Can we also get some exciting pictures. I want hotel rooms, pretend rooms, yawning producers, geeks shying away from booth babes, booth babes, John posing with booth babes, more booth babes. Also, John hugging the most out of place booth person. And hugging Joe Kucan (Kane) if he’s there. Because he’s clearly huggable. I suppose you should also preview some games while your at it, but c’mon, think priorities! ;)

  44. Fumarole says:

    Sorry, but by definition AIMs deserve nothing less than sneering.

  45. Jeremy says:

    In all fairness, he admitted this post wouldn’t be productive :) Better to wait for the rage to clear out before addressing that bugbear we call L4D2. And yes, sneering is a required part of the food chain of gamers, just like those unfortunate AIMs that necessitate it.

    @Rei, I’m excited about L4D2 as well, and honestly, I think the majority will be. It just so happens that the minority has to express itself much louder than the majority in order to be heard.

  46. yutt says:

    The Old Republic News is exciting. Looking forward to seeing what new announcements come through today.

    Edited for Brian Blessid’s sake. Even though L4D2 was mentioned in the article, and is obviously the hottest topic.

  47. Vinraith says:

    @John Walker

    Negative reactions to games which will go unnamed are about the news being reported, not the people reporting it. I can understand wishing for a more positive reaction to an exclusive find, but bad news is bad news no matter how well it’s reported. In short, don’t take it so personally, I don’t think even the angriest of that mob are interested in shooting the messenger. Keep up the great work, we appreciate it.

  48. Alec Meer says:

    For Brian Blessed’s sake – will you lot either quit the endless L4D2 bitching or at the very least keep it in the L4D2 threads. Yes, I know poor, tired and overworked John unhappily mentions the nega-response in this post, but we really don’t want the entire site to be about the one game.

  49. P7uen says:

    Well then of more relevance to the post, did anyone else think that the E3 logo on the left was that picture of Bart Simpson mooning?


  50. Markoff Chaney says:

    Loving the coverage, I am. Thank you, Good Sir. Keep the brain working and stay clean (with showers, that is) and get rest and food. Conventions can be a joy as well as a Sisyphus like exercise in futility, frustration and death wishes (like moderating a gaming website that allows feedback, I would imagine). Share and Enjoy!

    Also, for Brian Blessed’s sake – DIIIIIIIIVVVVVVVEEEEEE!!!!!